Sunday, March 25, 2007

PGMA turning RP into a nation of mendicants and paupers via her program of food-for-work and food for-school program

March 25, 2007

PGMA turning RP into a nation of mendicants and paupers via her program of food-for-work and food for-school program

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today said that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is turning the Philippines into 'a nation of paupers and mendicants reliant on alms and dole-outs' through her latest plan to release P1B billion pesos food-for-school and food-for-work programs and for various feeding programs.

Arroyo said that that the barangay food terminals, or "bagsakan" centers, where the poor can buy cheap food and basic commodities, would benefit some 200,000 of 700,000 hungry families in Metro Manila by next month.

"This is how Pres. Arroyo intends to address the issue of worsening hunger? Selling them cheap food? And where does she think the poor will get the money to but the food, however cheap it is? Pres. Arroyo is offering a Band-Aid solution to a gaping wound caused by severe hunger pangs. Making sure that cheap food is accessible to the poor is far from enough; what Filipinos is need is not dole-outs or cheap, low-quality food, they need steady employment and living wages. Hunger is an inevitable effect of unemployment and underemployment. Low wages far from enough to cover basic necessities is another," he said.

Beltran, now on his 4th day of fasting in protest of his continuing incarceration as well as the arrest of Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, said that Pres. Arroyo's heartless decision to thumb down the demand of private sector workers for a P125 across-the-board wage increase cannot be mitigated by this supposed plan to have P1 B released for food-for-school and food-for-work programs.

"And how long will this P1 billion last? We cannot even be sure that such an amount will actually be released and directly go towards these food-for work programs. What Mrs. Arroyo is succeeding in doing is temporarily stalling hunger and not moving decisively to eradicate it. Filipinos need jobs and wages that will enable them to live decently, not just live hand-to-mouth from one day to the next," he said.

Beltran challenged Pres. Arroyo to cut all budget expenditures earmarked for military operations and foreign debt servicing and reallocate the amount towards public health, housing and education. He also said that Pres. Arroyo should cut the various perks and privileges it gives to foreign investors and their businesses and instead give full assistance to local businesses to help them develop and flourish to encourage local job creation.

"Filipinos need jobs, not dole-outs. In the provinces, farmers are being stripped of their income and livelihood because of the government's land confiscation program masquerading as agrarian reform. Filipinos are being forced to leave the provinces in droves in hopes of finding jobs in the cities, and they end up unemployed and homeless. Pres. Arroyo should address the issue of poverty and its by-product hunger by going to the roots of the problem," he said.

Scrap pork barrel increase as it will be taken out of government employees' retirement funds

In the meantime, the activist lawmaker said that Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr's admission that the government still does not know it will get the P6.2-billion increase for the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of lawmaker was more than enough grounds to have the increased completely scrapped.

"This increase should be done away with, especially since it's been revealed that a large segment of the PDAF or P3.9B, will be taken from the P18.7-billion benefits and terminal leave pay for some 7,000 government retirees this year. This is most unfair to our government employees. Their retirement funds should be left alone, they have forced hard all these years but now their retirement funds are going to be affected just because there are lawmakers who are greedy for bigger pork barrel," he said.

Beltran reiterated his stand that the announcement of increased pork barrel for lawmakers is meant as an enticement to secure the loyalty of candidates running for congress and the senate. "It's a well-established and known fact that those closest and loyal to Malacanang have no problems securing their NCAs and SAROs, and their pork barrel funds are released without a hitch. In exchange, lawmakers give their signatures to all of Malacanang's priority measures and Palace-backed bills and resolutions," he concluded.#


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